Wednesday, 22 June 2011


In the entry for Monday 30 April 1660 in his diary, Samuel Pepys describes a visit to Deal during which he was evidently hell-bent on imbibing. However, he seems to have found the town somewhat disappointing, describing it as “a very pitiful town”. It seems Deal’s main crime was to fail to come up with the goods on the ale front: “We went to Fuller’s (the famous place for ale), but they have none but what was in the vat.” So he then went on a tavern called Poole’s where his thirst was finally satisfied. Pepys’ merrymaking continued on board a couple of the vessels which were anchored in port, culminating in all sorts of drink-fuelled tomfoolery.

But don’t let Pepys’ dismissive remark about the town put you off visiting. Deal is one of the more desirable towns on this stretch of the Kent coast, which explains its popularity with second-home owners. Even the pier is a cut above, boasting a smart cafe right at the end, which makes it a great venue for admiring the sunset. The town itself includes a “conservation area” with attractive old buildings, and many independent shops. Nearby Walmer Castle was built by Henry VIII and later became a residence for the Lords Warden of Cinque Ports. One of its residents was the Duke of Wellington, and visitors can see the original Wellington boot on display there. Deal itself also has a castle built by Henry and now looked after by English Heritage. Viewed from above these castles resemble the Tudor rose, but the rounded walls also had a more practical purpose, to minimise the effect of cannon fire. Another interesting place to visit is the Time Ball Tower Museum, which was built in 1820 to pass semaphore messages along the coast in the fight against smugglers, due to the fact that smuggling was rife in the town at the time. The time ball of the name was dropped once a day at 1 o’clock, enabling ships’ chronometers to be set for navigation purposes.

For a list of events in Deal, see here.

Map of the area.

File:The Time Ball Tower, Deal seafront - - 967213.jpg
The Time Ball Tower.  Photo by Nick Smith, via Wikimedia Commons

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